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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

Opinion: Combating ISIS & Keeping America Safe

November 24, 2015
Press Release

ISIS has shown the world their savage brutality time and time again. They maim and kill the innocent with no regard for humanity; they brutalize women and children; and they despise basic freedoms that we hold dear.  The tragic attacks on Paris are the clearest example yet that the targets of ISIS’ violent campaign are not limited to certain regions, nationalities or religions, and that includes the people of the United States on our own soil.  Make no mistake, if they are able to attack us here, they will.

That is why containing ISIS is not enough; we must destroy them – and that requires decisive leadership.  To that end, it’s long past time that the President partners with Congress to develop and implement a consistent strategy that roots out and defeats ISIS wherever it can be found.  In the bipartisan Defense Bill we recently passed, Congress again urges the President to take further action, and the time for that action is now.   

In regard to the refugee crisis, the United States has a long, proud history of standing for religious freedom and providing safe haven for oppressed and persecuted peoples around the world.  However, the first and greatest responsibility of the United States government is the safety and security of our own citizens.  Until we can say with certainty that the individuals trying to enter our nation are, in fact, refugees, and not terrorists, we have no choice to but to freeze any incoming applications from Syria and Iraq, while we aggressively scrutinize the vetting process.  The unpleasant truth is that we have to be right 100 percent of the time.  Literally just one mistake – just one jihadist that slips through the cracks – could mean the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Americans.  I am not willing to take that risk.

Furthermore, the following quotes from senior Obama administration officials make those risks clear.  Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said that: “It is true that we are not going to know a whole lot about the Syrians that come forth in this process… We know that organizations like ISIL might like to exploit this [Syrian refugee resettlement] program…”

James B. Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, said that: “There is risk associated with bringing anybody in from the outside, but especially from a conflict zone like [Syria]… My concern there [about bringing Syrian refugees into the United States] is that there are certain gaps I don’t want to talk about publicly in the data available to us.” (Source for both quotes:

This should not be a partisan issue, nor an ideological one.  The strategy to destroy ISIS and protect our homeland is about the safety and security of our own citizens, and that must come before every other consideration.